In Mali, “France pays the price for its ambiguity”

Since the imposition of sanctions by ECOWAS, France has no longer eased pressure on Mali’s military regime. Already a new phase of tension between the two countries for several months.

Tensions between the two countries have escalated again, as the climate between Paris and Bamako has already been deteriorating for several months. Questioned, Imposition of penalties The Economic Community of West African Countries (ECOWAS) and decided on January 9th Supported by France : Closing borders with Mali and banning trade and finance.

The leaders of the West African organization have chosen the strongest path after the announcement of the military regime to postpone the presidential and assembly elections, although it was promised on February 27. A way to the kernel Azimi Goita Came to power on May 25, 2021, indicating that he wanted to retain power for many years.

Since then, Paris has not eased the pressure. On Wednesday, January 12, he further announced Air France has suspended its communications with the country until further notice. While France holds the six-month presidency of the European Union, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has promised that 27 people are preparing for a series of actions.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres made the request to the Malian government on Thursday “Acceptable Election Calendar” He says he hopes to “contact the Malian government soon.”

In parallel, the military junta called on Malians to take to the streets on Friday in Bamako, where they are planning a series of protests against West African sanctions and international pressure, and, first and foremost, from France for the defense of the homeland.

Antoine Glaser, co-author of the book “The African Trap of Macron” by Fayard, returns to France 24 to discuss the deteriorating relations between the two countries in recent months and the consequences of this new chapter for France in Mali and the Sahel. ..

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France 24: Since the announcement of the ECOWAS sanctions against Mali, many news items openly criticizing France have been posted on social media. In fact there is a strong anti-French hatred in the country ?

Antoine Closer: In Africa, France lives in a kind of historical barbarism. As the continent becomes globalized, the French military presence gives the whole population the impression that Paris still wants to pull the strings of an ‘old-fashioned Françafrique’. And that Less and less accepted By Mali youth, and generally by all African youth.

Not only that, but that’s why Raison d’Tre Summit organized in Montpellier By Emanuel Macron. He hoped to alleviate the dissatisfaction of this citizen by inviting only members of civil society, and by removing the heads of state, and taking back the image of this Françafrique.

Apparently, in the context of the ECOWAS sanctions, we must not overlook the fact that this anti-French sentiment is being instrumentalized by Bamako’s officials who exaggerate nationalism and make France the best criminal. Not forgetting the tool Russia Who wants to create his place on the continent.

Relations between France and Mali had already been strained for months. What is Emmanuel Macron’s strategy with Bamako? ?

In my opinion, in Mali, France pays the price for its own ambiguity. The official position of the Quai d’Orsay is that it no longer wants to be at the forefront of Africa’s internal affairs and that its sole purpose is to fight against jihadism.

The meeting between Emmanuel Macron and Assimi Koida in December is a good example of this strategy. The head of state refused to come alone and asked to come with African supporters. He wanted to show that he was not in the front row and that he wanted to defend himself behind ECOWAS. This is why the meeting was canceled.

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>> Read more: Insecurity, Wagner, change … Many lessons in friction between France and Mali

However, when we talk about Mali, because of its influential diplomacy, France always puts itself at the forefront of all debate. The reason is simple: its military power and its presence in Africa are the basis of its power in the international arena. Without Africa, France is weak. It is entangled in this process of balancing African interests with international interests.

And the inauguration of France To the post of President of the European Union Further reinforces this phenomenon. In particular, for months, Emmanuel Macron has been trying to involve as many European countries as possible in the fight against terrorism in Africa through the Takuba force. [force opérationnelle composée principalement d’unités des forces spéciales de plusieurs pays de l’Union européenne, NDLR].

Is there a risk of increased tensions due to ECOWAS’s restrictions?

In this political-military-diplomatic improglio, the situation for the Kwai d’Orsay will be objectively more difficult. This has already happened today [jeudi 13 janvier, NDLR] Between Côte d’Ivoire and northern Mali, the A400M returned from Operation Bergen. Bamaka advanced It emphasizes that it has violated the ban on flying more aircraft in its airspace, Was decided in response to the restrictions. France has argued that military aircraft were not affected by the measures, but the episode sounds like a warning.

Also, you may be wondering how Operation Bargane can proceed. Since there is already no other option, in this vast territory, apart from the use of air routes, but the sending of Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group raises many operational questions.

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>> Read more: Who are the Russian fighters of the Wagner group that are approaching the military junta in Mali? ?

In this situation, shouldn’t we expedite the withdrawal of troops from France? ?

France will not make this decision Three months before the presidential election, the country’s security situation worsened. She wants at all costs to avoid Afghan defeat.

In this story, it is important to understand that each country serves its own interests. Some members of the ECOWAS fear a coup in their own country. Algeria also half-heartedly supports sanctions. Everyone has their own agenda.

Can ECOWAS sanctions further damage France’s image in other countries in the region? ?

This is obvious, there is a risk of having a boomerang effect. Anti-French sentiment was already present in all the former colonies and was particularly strong in Sahel. The proof is, we remember This operation is the Barclays Convoy The storm struck while traveling from Ivory Coast to northern Mali in November.

ECOWAS sanctions could have far-reaching consequences for Mali’s neighbors. Senegal, for example, relies heavily on its trade relations with Bamako. Part of its business has now come to a standstill. Of course Senegalese opponents could use this in an ideological discourse and, as a result, take part in further discrediting the image of France.

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